If you don’t exercise regularly, and you want to improve your body, mind, energy levels, mental health and resistance to disease, walking is one of the best things you can do! Our fab walking progression programme can help you smash your goals and improve your health at the same time.
So, what is this programme?
Well, it is more than just daily steps, it’s an achievable plan, that gives the maximum benefits, with minimum time investment. It also delivers the single most important aspect of an effective exercise programme (hinted at in the name) – progression.
We’ve written about the benefits of walking before, where we gave some great tips on how to make it easier and more enjoyable. This article includes new research and strategies to take the benefits to the next level! We’ve based this programme on one that was shown to dramatically improve several aspects of the body’s metabolism, although it has been slightly altered to make it more practical and easier to start and progress.
Let’s begin with a little ‘exercise 101’
There are four considerations when you are thinking about a fitness routine: mode, intensity, duration and frequency. Mode is the type of exercise; intensity is how hard; duration is how long; and frequency is how often. This programme involves walking (which may progress to jogging/running), at a progressively faster pace, making your way up to 45 minutes, three times per week:
Start by walking, at a pace that is challenging but at which you could have a conversation without gasping, for 20 minutes, three times per week. Ideally, have one or two days between walks (Monday, Wednesday, Friday often works best).
After two weeks, add five minutes to your walks and add another five minutes each subsequent week, until you hit at least 45 minutes.
After the first four weeks, start to pay very close attention to your breathing and increase your walking speed so that you are on the cusp of not being able to carry on a normal conversation. If you want to be a little more precise, and really improve the benefits, you can use a heart monitor (many smart watches have them) and use the formula 180 minus your age. So, if you are 40 years old, check your heart rate every minute or so and try to stay as close as possible to 140 beats per minute.
This last point is ‘zone 2 exercise’ and as you progress, you transform your body’s ability to metabolise sugar and you supercharge the little energy factories in your cells called ‘mitochondria’ (along with multiple other benefits).
Eventually, you can graduate to jogging and perhaps running. Keep in mind though, as you progress, that most of your exercise (about 80%) should be at the ‘conversational’, ‘180 minus age’ heart rate but for a little extra boost and benefits, after six weeks you can make one of your walks or runs more intense, getting that heart rate higher than zone 2 – perhaps alternating between running and walking or jogging and sprinting.
A few other handy tips:
If you have any issues with walking, you can do this on a bike (normal or stationary bike). The only disadvantage of this is that you won’t get the bone-strengthening effects of walking.
You can continue to add five minutes to your walks beyond six weeks.
Get some headphones and listen to an e-book, podcast or music – make this something to enjoy and look forward to!
We hope these simple tips and tricks will help you take your walk to the next level. If you’re wanting to start your weight-loss journey, why not speak to a Consultant today?